Do you know what the most likely hazard or type of emergency is in this area? According to the Thompson Nicola Regional District’s Clearwater Evacuation Plan – written in conjunction with British Columbia Ambulance Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ministry of Natural Resources Operations and local community members – there are two types of emergencies that are most likely to occur.
The number one probable emergency is the threat of an interface or wildfire. An interface fire is a term used to describe a wildfire within a residential area. Do you know your first course of action if you see a wildfire or hear that there is a wildfire in your direct area? Calling 911 is a great way to alert authorities of a possibly unknown wildfire, however for the most direct information viewing the BC Forest Service website (bcwildfire.ca) or calling their toll free number at 1-800-663-5555 is advisable. When an evacuation is in place for an area affected by a wildfire, the TNRD handles issuing Alert, Order and Rescind notices based on recommendations from the Ministry of Natural Resources Operations. The notice will be delivered by a combination of avenues that could include either door-to-door notification by RCMP and Search and Rescue, or Public Service Announcements (radio, social media, television, online). During a potential emergency, citizens should be on alert and monitor various communication sources for the most updated information.
The second most likely emergency that could take place in this area is flooding. Do you know what to do in the event of severe flooding in your area? The Ministry of Environment River Forecast Center’s website (bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca) or its number 1-250-387-9472 is the best source to obtain information about how to respond to flooding. The TNRD has an Emergency Program implemented to help residents in the event of displacement or evacuation and also serves as the information coordination for the particular emergency incident. If the flooding is severe enough, once again door-to-door notification or Public Service Announcements will alert residents.
Other hazards that are moderate or likely to occur in this area include transport accidents on rail and highways, dangerous goods spills or severe weather. The probability of a large-scale earthquake in this area is low.
According to the Provincial Emergency Program and Public Safety Canada every family should be prepared to be self sufficient for at least 72 hours. This includes creating a family plan in the event of an incident separating your family, and building a kit that contains emergency supplies such as candles, matches, fuel, non-perishable food, drinking water, seasonal clothes, tools, sleeping bags, portable cooking stove and flashlights, just to name a few. For a complete list of emergency items to have on hand go to the Provincial Emergency Program’s website (pep.gov.bc.ca).
In the event of an emergency, volunteers are the public safety lifeline and are critical to providing help to residents in the response and recovery phases. This includes local volunteer Fire Departments, Emergency Social Services, Search and Rescue, B.C. Road Rescue Service, Provincial Emergency Air Search and Rescue, Emergency Radio Communications and general service volunteers. For a list of information for local branches of these groups contact your local government office.
Before any emergency, everyone should know the specific risks of their area, make a family plan, have an emergency contact list and prepare an emergency kit.
– Submitted by former Clearwater resident Ron Storie, TNRD emergency services supervisor. When he was services coordinator for Wells Gray Country (Area A) Storie played a lead role in the local response to the wildfires of 2003.